Want to easily stream movies stored on one machine to another? Check out DLNA

Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has been around for ages, yet I have only looked into it in the last month.  I didn’t know it was so widespread and how useful it could be.

Wikipedia’s entry for DLNA nicely summarises it’s purpose and how widespread it is:

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is a standard used by manufacturers of consumer electronics to allow entertainment devices within the home to share their content with each other across a home network.

As of August 2009 it is supported in more than 5,500 different devices and in 2008 over 200 million devices sold with it built in

Home Network DLNA devices fall into the the following categories (Source: http://dlna.org):

  • Digital Media Server (DMS)
    • These devices store content and make it available to other devices (e.g. PCs and NAS devices) .
  • Digital Media Player (DMP)
    • These devices find content on Digital Media Servers (DMS) and provide playback and rendering capabilities (e.g. TVs, stereos and home theaters, wireless monitors and game consoles).
  • Digital Media Renderer (DMR)
    • These devices play content received from a Digital Media Controller (DMC), which will find content from a Digital Media Server (e.g. TVs, audio/video receivers, video displays and remote speakers for music).
  • Digital Media Controller (DMC)
    • These devices find content on the Digital Media Servers (DMS) and play it on Digital Media Renderers (DMR). 
  • Digital Media Printer (DMPr)
    • These devices provide printing services to the DLNA home network.

What this means is that you can store media such as movies or music in one location (made available by a DLNA Server), and easily stream this to a DLNA player, like a DLNA-compliant TV, a PC running a DLNA player such as Windows Media Player, or a Games Console such as a PS3 or Xbox 360.  So chances are you already have a player setup and ready to go and didn’t even know it.  In fact Windows Media Player acts as a server so you may be fully setup.

Different Servers and Players have different capabilities so you may want to try different combinations to see what works for you.

In terms of how I’m using DLNA, I have setup a free DLNA Server (TVersity) on our Media PC that has recorded tv, movies, photos and music.  While writing this blog post on another PC connected wirelessly to the home network, I was able to watch recorded TV in another window using Windows Media Player and it was no more difficult than selecting a movie to watch on the local PC.

So, when you’re buying your next TV or Stereo it would be worth checking whether it has DLNA support.  Some of the new Samsung TVs, for example, now have Wireless DLNA support.

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